[Listening] Dilemma Of Indian Rural TikTok Stars

Hey, guys! Welcome to [Listening]!

Before today’s listening, let’s check the answers to the last episode.

1. a multitude of;

2. Despite;

3. flexibility.


The Chinese social media app TikTok is hugely popular in India and has made video stars of a number of the poor and marginalized (feel isolated and unimportant). Since the Indian ban on Chinese apps, these unlikely celebrities have lost their voice, their income and even their self-confidence.

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“I am so ______(1 Word Missing) ,” Gaikwad said by phone from Ambad, a village of cotton and millet farms 200 miles (320km) east of Mumbai. She is 35 years old, who once dreamed of becoming a TV actress and has become one of those unlikely stars in the huge, highly addictive universe of TikTok by uploading her own short videos a year ago. On the day the ban was announced, her account had amassed nearly half a million followers. That night, she barely slept. She was mourning the loss of not just a favourite “time pass” – Indian parlance for a frivolous (of little weight or importance) activity – but of a new way of seeing herself.

Gaikwad became known as the “mutton lady” after a early video and soon began posting several times daily. One of her clips got 1.4 million views. Celebrity isn’t something Gaikwad expected, growing up poor in Maharashtra state and raising four children with Ankush, who earns US$120 a month as a local government employee. When she goes to the market now, she said, people stop her for selfies. Strangers ask to shoot videos with her. Some even come to her house.

“I never got into TikTok for money,” she said. “But I got respect, ______(1 Word Missing) and confidence. We are poor people. We have never received any attention in life. All we have got is disdain (the feeling that sb.is not good enough to deserve respect) and scorn. TikTok turned it around.”

This week, Gaikwad donned a black sari and gold earrings for the camera, touching her heart as she recorded her last TikTok post. “Thank you for all the love and support,” she said. “I met many new people because of this. It became a family of sorts where we could express ourselves and share our feelings.” But like a true star, she refused to ______(2 Words Missing) the limelight. “I’ve now started a YouTube channel,” she said, signing off.

Nikhil Pahwa, founder of MediaNama, a website that covers the Indian digital industry, commented that “TikTok specialises in being a platform that is accessible irrespective of socioeconomic class. That’s why it’s become a hub of creative activity from places that we didn’t expect. Farmers and labourers use TikTok to overcome loneliness and poverty. It provides us with some respite (a period of temporary delay). It is a platform where we belong and can express ourselves freely.”

END

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